Somerset Over 60’s 1st xi Captain’s Review of 2018
After a pleasing win in the pre-season friendly with Oxford we surprised Gloucester with a fine all-round performance based on the commanding opening stand of 150 by stalwarts Graham Poulton and Dave Stephenson. They capitulated 60 runs short of our 230 in the face of disciplined bowling from all the attack.
The Wiltshire game was a real nail biter. At 41-7 we were struggling but the tail wagged, Mike Smith top scoring with 27, so at least 106 was competitive. We fielded and bowled well, led in particular by Tony Scott (2-2) and Norman Botton (5-27), and won by 8 runs!
Two defeats then followed. Attacking batting and poor fielding allowed Wales to overtake our 166 with three wickets to spare. Sadly, the consistent Simon Hopkinson (86*) found little support from his partners. In Devon we had no answer to the hard-hitting opener who plundered 158 against us to enable them to set us 260 to win by 100 runs.
By the season’s mid-point our fortunes shifted, and we gained a narrow but deserved win at home to Hampshire. Our score of 224-4 was achieved thanks to Dave Stephenson (61) and Simon Hopkinson again (86 no). We restricted them to 208-9 with Norman Botton (4-54) the most successful of the bowlers, Rich Gatton took four excellent stumpings.
A key result in our bid to reach the knock-out stage came against Gloucester. At 82-1 with Paul Ashton (30) finding his form, we slumped to 88-5 but Neil Johnson (21) and Norman Botton (36) restored a semblance of respectability as we posted 166. In reply Gloucester imploded as Mike Smith (4-21) reduced them from 40-0 to 52-7 and they could only muster 119.
We allowed Wiltshire to reach 215 and the game was in the balance with us at 146-5 but Simon Hopkinson again (46), Norman Botton (45no) and extras (48) saw us home after Graham Poulton (45) had given us a good start.
At home to Wales. in the searing heat, Tony Scott (3-19) and the evergreen Brian Brogden (3-34, who bowled well all season), restricted them to 157. We won convincingly by 6 wickets thanks to Paul Ashton (62, and two fine slip catches) and Simon Hopkinson (51no).
Against Devon the game was in the balance as we were only 112-5 before Neil Johnson (31) and Norman Botton (61) got the total to 228-7. At 9-4 Iain Locke had all but destroyed Devon and he ended his superb spell with 4-22. They were all out for 97.
Finally to Hampshire and while at 140-2 we were well placed, we could only score 191. We needed two bowling points to finish top of the group but at 97-1 we were not threatening to do so. However, Brian Brogden (3-27) and Norman Botton (3-16) secured the points (aided by reserve keeper Neil Johnson’s four stumpings), although we lost the match by 4 wickets.
So to the knockout stage of the National competition. Against Oxford the bowlers all performed well, but none more so than ‘Broggie’ whose figures of 1-15 were outstanding. The batting conditions were not easy but chasing only 156 was made more difficult when we were 3-2. However, Graham Poulton (22) and Andy Ashfold (54) initiated the recovery before Tony Scott (37 no) batted sublimely to ease us to a 4 wicket victory with the help of a cameo innings by Neil Johnson.
Our last eight game was in Warwickshire where we won the toss again, inserted the opposition and watched as they progressed to 62-2. Mike Smith captured three very deserved wickets in his nine overs (3-30) and Brian Brogden more than matched that with his 4-28. Chasing just 118 it was down to Mike Fear (30) and Tony Scott (28) to see us over the line and win by three wickets.
At Hertford we started superbly as Paul Ashton caught their England opener off a fine Iain Locke delivery in the very first over. Then their two other England batsmen put on over 150 without offering a chance, despite testing spells from Brian Brogden and Tony Scott in particular. This enabled them to launch an attack at the end of the innings to post 226. In reply it proved too difficult to recover from 41-3. There was a glimmer of hope when Paul Ashton (50) and Andy Ashfold (66no) were at the crease; however, we were unable to score boundaries, fell further behind the clock and lost wickets to end on 192-9.
We now have the winter in which to remember the positives, to reflect on the mistakes, to recover physically and to return with renewed enthusiasm in 2019.
Somerset Over 60’s 2nd xi Captain’s Review of 2018
It is disappointing to report our finishing bottom of our division, winning three but losing seven games. The early matches promised much with our beating Worcestershire and Devon before losing to a strong Welsh side, despite needing just 47 from the last 10 overs with 7 wickets in hand. There was a match winning performance by Rich Newport against Devon, scoring 116*, as well as a great catch in the deep and 3 wickets. Steve Curnow had 10 wickets in those three games and Neil Johnson had scored a wonderful 80 in the loss v Wales.
But then as the hot summer set in, Neil, Rich and Jerry Palmer were called up for first team duties and results took a turn for the worse. A feeble effort against Gloucestershire, all out 142, and then two consecutive defeats to Oxfordshire, both times well and truly thrashed. And then another thrashing against Wales, losing by over 100 runs for the third consecutive game.
Worcestershire appeared to be a side that could be beaten, but they successfully chased 189, (set up by 74 from Rick Hutchinson), within 38 overs and for the loss of just 3 wickets. Next up, a real bottom of the table clash. And Devon lost to us again. Rick continued his good run of form with 72, and a welcome return to the side for Pete Rebera, scoring 50 and taking two wickets. We met Gloucestershire for the last game, but another defeat meant we propped up the table.
In the knock-out stage we travelled to Leicestershire and in reply to their 238 for 2, we somewhat stuttered to 161 all out.
Rick Hutchinson finished the season with the most runs, 287 at an average of over 35. Apart from the contributions of Rich Newport, Neil Johnson and Pete Rebera, our batsman failed to deliver consistently – although Steve Chaudoir had a couple of decent scores in the last few games.
The bowlers didn’t fare much better. Steve Curnow ended with 13 wickets at an average of 29, Dave Lloyd 10 at 30.3 and Glyn Flinders 9 wickets at 39.78. Alan Rogerson was the pick of our fielders.
In the final analysis we recognise that the batsmen scored too slowly (averaging 169 per match) and the bowlers didn’t take enough wickets, (just 56 in all 10 games). The fielding often lacked the urgency we saw in other sides, and with the possible exception of Worcestershire, the opposition were fitter than us.
Despite the poor results, the season was enjoyable, the weather was good, the teas were tasty and there were many memorable moments. And as a captain, I appreciated the support I received from my team and the spirit that games were played. I’m optimistic that 2019 will be a great year, not just for the seconds, but for Somerset Senior Cricket as a whole.